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Board Approves Plan that Closes Schools

The board of the Pittsburgh Public School District voted 8-1 Tuesday night to approve a school realignment plan that closes seven schools and makes several other changes. A spokesperson for the district says that the budget creates a much leaner and more focused organization.

The plan is one of many steps that the board will have to take to trim the district's budget in order to avoid a tax hike next year. The district faces a more than $20 million deficit in the 2011-2012 budget, and as much as a $100 million shortfall by 2015.

Northview PreK-8, Fort Pitt PreK-5, Schaeffer Intermediate and Primary, Stevens K-8, Oliver High School, and Langley High School will be closed at the end of the current academic year in June. The plan also reverses the changes made to Westinghouse High School, including the single-gender academy concept. At the same time, the plan calls for a new K-8 school in the Langley facility and the expansion of Pittsburgh Morrow from a PreK-5 to a PreK-8 school, the reconfiguration of Pittsburgh Westwood from a K-8 to a K-5 school, the relocation of McCleary Early Childhood Center into Pittsburgh Arsenal PreK-5, and Pittsburgh McNaugher into the Oliver facility.

"No one is ever happy about closing schools. These are very difficult decisions to make, but while difficult, they are necessary, as we remain committed to building a strong, sustainable public school district in Pittsburgh," said Superintendent Linda Lane.

During the same meeting, the board approved the sale of the shuttered Reizenstein and Ridge facilities. RGC Longview/Walnut Capital will purchase Reizenstein for approximately $5.4 million. The developer plans to create 20 new homes, 70 townhomes, and office space at that location. The Board additionally approved the sale of the Ridge facility to Light of Life Ministries for just more than $1.1 million. That group plans to develop the building into a residential facility.